The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Five Finds on Friday: Courtney Hildebrand

Courtney

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Courtney Hildebrand of The Catering Outfit, the full service caterer that recently launched pop-up lunches and dinners at its Carlton Road kitchen. Lunches are every Thursday, and the first dinner installment will be Saturday, August 18: Basque Seaside Dinner, with chef Tomas Rahal of Quality Pie. Details and reservations here. Meanwhile, The Catering Outfit’s sister restaurant, The Shebeen Pub and Braai, serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday, with house made Bloody Marys, acoustic music, and even outdoor patio seating on swings (yes swings). Hildebrand’s picks:

1) Mexican Street Corn at Junction. “In a town with lots of new street corn options, Melissa still has my favorite! It’s one of their shared plates so you can enjoy a small order by yourself or get a large to share with your friends. The chili-lime dressing is amazing.  Junction also has my favorite cocktails in town. I love to try anything Alec creates. My current favorite is Rum Communion with brown butter rum and notes of pineapple & lime. It’s hard to have just one of these yummy cocktails!”

2) Spicy Shrimp Dishes at The Local, Bang!, and The Shebeen Pub and Brai. “I am a sucker for a great shrimp dish. I have a three way tie for the best shrimp dish in town, as I will always order these if I am at one of these establishments. My picks are the Crispy Shrimp at The Local, the Firecracker Shrimp at Bang!, and the False Bay Crispies at The Shebeen Pub and Braai. They are all so tasty and it is just too hard to narrow it down to just one pick!”

3) Green Giant Roll at Now & Zen. “Now and Zen is one of my favorite spots to go to dinner with a small group of friends. Everything on the menu is mouthwatering, but the Green Giant Roll is always a pleasant surprise for friends who shy away from vegetarian dishes. This giant roll with sweet potato tempura, avocado & cream cheese stands up to any of their other signature big rolls.”

4) Vella Jack Cheese Fritters at Zocalo. “My sister and I love to go Zocalo for dinner when we can make time to have a night out together. We always start with the cheese fritters & raspberry-chili glaze, and then split the salmon dish for our entrée. The entire menu always sounds amazing, but we rarely stray from these picks on our sister dinner date. Zocalo also offers margarita flights which is always a good start to a night out!”

5) Big Baby Sake from North American Sake Brewery. “They have not quite opened their doors yet, but I have had a chance to try the new Big Baby Sake from the soon-to-be-open North American Sake Brewery. Andrew Centofante’s creation is one of the best sakes I have ever tried. I am excited for what he & Jeremy have in store once they open their doors next week.”

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Braised short rib sandwich, a recent pop-up lunch at The Catering Outfit

 

Five Finds on Friday: Ellie Grinspun

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Ellie Grinspun, the former chef-owner of Kafkafe who now runs Ellie Cooks, a personal chef service in your home. Details here. Grinspun’s picks:

1) Blueberries from The Berry Patch in Free Union. “A tradition that began 18 years ago, picking blueberries with my son, and still continues. When he was younger we would read ‘Blueberries for Sal’ at bedtime in preparation for our morning adventure. As he surpassed me in height it became a competition to see who could pick the most – me, but he definitely eats the most! Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!”

2) Coppa Pork Steaks salted and thrown on the grill from JM Stock Provisions. “Ask the boys, Alex and Ben, to cut it thick! Serve it with a huge seasonal salad and enjoy. Oh, and their tasso ham sliced to go or served on their flaky biscuits with honey and hot sauce. Don’t forget to follow Autumn Olive Farms on Instagram and watch videos of their adorable piglets running and grazing!”

3) Farmers in the Park at Meade Avenue. “This is my idea of a perfect market – low key, shaded, local fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, drinks, desserts, and food. No crowds means you can chat with the vendors and really get to know them!”

4) Scallops from Seafood @ West Main. “Lately, I like them raw! Slice them horizontally and layer them on a serving platter with chunks of local peaches, paper thin slices of cucumbers, drizzle with a shallot white balsamic vinaigrette and a sprinkling of Maldon flakes, and top with torn pieces of fresh mint. Simple and fresh.”

5) Ending an evening out with a Chocolate Pot de Crème at Orzo. “Think chocolate pudding marries crème brûlée. Or, the deconstructed s’mores bread pudding and a whiskey sour prepared with an egg white at Oakhart Social.”

 

 

Introducing Patisserie Torres

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One of Charlottesville’s most accomplished pastry chefs is opening a French patisserie on the downtown mall. Born and trained in France, Fleurie’s Serge Torres first came to the US in 1993, as assistant pastry chef at Le Cirque under his cousin Jacques Torres, aka “Mr. Chocolate.” Next was another Manhattan three-star restaurant, Le Perigord, where he oversaw all breads, pastries, and specialty desserts. Eventually, Torres was lured to Charlottesville to work with Kluge Estate Winery and Fuel, before finding his way to Fleurie in 2015.

Patisserie Torres is a joint venture with Fleurie founder Brian Helleberg, who sees it as a chance to give Torres more space to shine – both figuratively and literally. Torres has been underutilized, Helleberg says, in his 16 square feet portion of Fleurie’s tiny kitchen, and the driving idea behind the new patisserie “was to get Serge and his 15 different of types of sugar out of the Fleurie kitchen so that the rest of us had a little space.”

This could be a win-win-win. For Fleurie, more space. For Torres, his own place. And, for Charlottesville diners, a Torres showcase. Patisserie Torres will be a carryout breakfast and lunch pastry shop serving sweet and savory French pastries along with salads, soups, and sandwiches. The new space is just across 3rd St. NE from Fleurie, once home to Cappellino’s Crazy Cakes.

The emphasis is a quick experience for diners on the run, with plenty of prepared-ahead items. French pastries lend themselves well to the concept. For breakfast, there are croissants, cramique, house-made granola and egg sandwiches. For lunch, savory tarts, often enjoyed at room temperature, make for an ideal grab-and-go meal. Pissaladierre, for example, is a classic Provencal tart of anchovy paste, caramelized onions, and black olives. Quiche likewise rests well, and Torres will offer both Quiche Lorraine, with bacon and Gruyere cheese, and Quiche Salmon, with potatoes and chives. Of the savory items, Helleberg’s favorite is the sausage friand – house made sausage and bechamel, wrapped in puff pastry.  There will also be gougeres (cheese puffs by the dozen) and roulés feuilletés – puff pastry rolled with fillings like cheese and sausage.

And there of course will be the sweets for which Torres is known: pastries, confisseries, truffles, cakes, petit fours, clafouti, and more. The “Passion Chocolate,” for example, is coconut dacquoise with passion fruit and banana cremeux, and dark bittersweet chocolate mousse. Torres’ Napoleon meanwhile is caramelized puff pastry with almond biscuit, raspberry-ginger coulis and vanilla mousseline cream. But, Helleberg’s favorites are Torres’ macarons, particularly the coffee-flavored ones.

Patisserie Torres opens Wednesday, August 1, from 7:30 am – 3 pm.